Nations League draw: England face Belgium, Wales play Republic of Ireland

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March 4, 2020
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    Harry Maguire, Romelu Lukaku, England, Belgium

    England lost to Belgium twice at the 2018 World Cup in Russia

    England will play world number one team Belgium, Denmark and Iceland in League A of the 2020-2021 Nations League.

    Wales will face the Republic of Ireland, Finland and Bulgaria in League B, while Northern Ireland are grouped with Austria, Norway and Romania.

    Scotland, also in League B, will play the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Euro 2020 play-off opponents Israel.

    The first group games take place in September this year, with the finals scheduled for the summer.

    Groups in full:

    England lost twice to Belgium at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, going down 1-0 in the group stage before losing 2-0 in the third-place play-off.

    Iceland famously beat the Three Lions in the last 16 of Euro 2016, while Daniel Sturridge earned Roy Hodgson’s side a 1-0 win in their last meeting with Denmark.

    “All of the groups are quite tough and it’s a really good fixture with Belgium as well – a team we haven’t played as much in the last couple of years,” England manager Gareth Southgate told Sky Sports.

    “The best way to improve is to play the best teams. We got very proficient in the European qualifiers at beating teams who defended deep, and managed to score a lot of goals. But you are only developing one part of your game in those tests.

    “These matches will be a greater test of our all-round game.”

    Elsewhere, Wales are grouped with the Republic of Ireland in the Nations League for the second time in a row. Ryan Giggs’ side won 4-1 at the Cardiff City Stadium in September 2018 before securing a 1-0 victory in Dublin the following month.

    Scotland, who are due to face Israel in a one-off Euro 2020 play-off semi-final at Hampden later this month, also face the Israelis in the Nations League once again.

    Alex McLeish’s team lost 2-1 away in the inaugural edition of the tournament, before beating Israel 3-2 at Hampden to top League C Group One last season.

    Northern Ireland lost twice to Austria, being beaten 1-0 away before a 2-1 defeat at Windsor Park.

    What has changed in 2020-2021?

    Nations League 2020-21

    Tuesday’s 2020-21 Nations League draw was held in Amsterdam

    Uefa has increased the size of the top three tiers to 16 countries – meaning each group will have four teams – and decreased the size of the bottom tier to seven.

    The teams who win each group in the top division – as England did last time – will go into the finals tournament in June 2021. The teams who finish bottom will be relegated to League B.

    Unlike the previous campaign, when everybody was qualifying for the Euro 2020 play-offs, only two World Cup play-off spots are on offer to the 55 countries.

    The best two Nations League group winners who do not qualify for the World Cup or play-offs through normal qualifying, will go into the 12-team World Cup play-offs in March 2022.

    When are the games?

    Matchday 1: 3-5 September 2020

    Matchday 2: 6-8 September 2020

    Matchday 3: 8-10 October 2020

    Matchday 4: 11-13 October 2020

    Matchday 5: 12-14 November 2020

    Matchday 6: 15-17 November 2020

    Source

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